Tennessee Amendment 1

Amendment 1 Update

During the 2015 legislative session, we made progress on a couple of measures related to Amendment 1 that were signed into law: first, a 48-hour waiting period with in-person counseling by a physician prior to an abortion, which was signed into law by Gov. Haslam on May 18, 2015, and, second, the new requirement that all clinics in Tennessee performing more than 50 surgical abortions per year be regulated as ambulatory surgery treatment centers. The new regulations took effect July 1, 2015.

While abortion-specific informed consent and waiting period laws have been enacted, those laws, including the amendment itself, the measure became the subject of both a federal and state lawsuit.

At the end of January 2016, the Tennessee Attorney General moved for summary judgment in the Amendment 1 case pending in Williamson County. In the state action filed by the Secretary of State, the motion for summary judgment was scheduled for March 30, 2016.

On April 21, 2016, Williamson County Circuit Court Judge Michael Binkley upheld the state’s method of counting votes on the 2014 amendment on abortion.

State Judge Binkley’s Amendment 1 ruling gave federal judge Kevin Sharp something to think about as he considers the Amendment 1 case pending before him:

“Although not being disposed to instruct the United States District Court … how to apply the federal constitution, the Court would point out … that the Supreme court of the United States has ruled that otherwise plain and unambiguous statutory provisions should be construed so as [to] effectuate the underlying, fundamental purpose of the statute. King v. Burwell, 135 S. Ct. 2480 (2015). The fundamental purpose of Article XI, Section 3, cannot be to disenfranchise citizens who vote on an amendment referendum simply because they eschew voting in the gubernatorial election.”

Let’s hope Judge Sharp listens!

We celebrate this great news; however, there is still a pending challenge to the amendment in federal court. Oral arguments for the federal trial on Amendment 1 were heard April 5, 2016.

Read David Fowler’s official statement about the Amendment 1 win November 2014.

Amendment 1 FAQ Videos, Featuring David Fowler


You can view the entire playlist in the above video window. Just play all, and then watch them in succession.

Or you can click on the individual video you want to watch in the smaller thumbnails below.

To learn more about the official campaign organization in support of Amendment 1, visit www.yeson1.org.

Videos Featuring Former Planned Parenthood Clinic Director Abby Johnson

History of Amendment 1

During the last few decades of the 20th century, the Tennessee Legislature passed a series of sensible laws regulating abortion, including waiting period and informed consent laws, creating an environment where innocent human life was protected as much as legally possible.That environment changed dramatically in the year 2000 when the Tennessee state Supreme Court “found” a broader right to abortion in the state constitution than exists in the U.S. Constitution.

Plainly stated, the effect of the Court’s holding . . . is to remove from the people all power, except by constitutional amendment, to enact reasonable regulations of abortion. – Justice Mickey Barker

As a consequence of this decision, our state’s informed consent law was struck down as well as our law that required women to wait 48 hours from the time they were informed to the time they had the abortion. In addition, the Court struck down the requirement that riskier later-term abortions be performed in a hospital.

The decision sent shock waves through the state’s pro-life community. In effect, the Court’s ruling said that there can be no restriction on abortion in Tennessee, no matter what the people want. Justice Mickey Barker, who dissented from the Court’s decision, said, “Plainly stated, the effect of the Court’s holding today is to remove from the people all power, except by constitutional amendment, to enact reasonable regulations of abortion.”

In addition, in the spring of 2008, the state’s Attorney General issued a formal opinion stated that a ban on partial-birth abortion, using the same language approved by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007, would be “constitutionally suspect” under Tennessee’s Constitution.

As a result of our state Supreme Court’s ruling, Roe v. Wade could be reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow, yet abortion would still be a constitutional right in Tennessee under our state constitution.“. . . except by constitutional amendment . . .”

In response to the Court’s overreaching action, state legislators finally adopted Senate Joint Resolution 127 (SJR 127). This resolution allowed Tennesseans to vote in 2014 to amend the state constitution to again make it “neutral” on abortion while still subject to the abortion rights rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court. When SJR 127 was added to the ballot for November 2014, it officially became Amendment 1. Amendment 1 once again allowed common-sense abortion regulations to protect women and children, including the following:

  • Informed consent to provide accurate information related to women’s health issues and fetal development,
  • 24-hour waiting period to avoid coercion and reduce the likelihood of an ill-considered decision,
  • Inspection and regulation of abortion facilities, and
  • Hospitalization requirement for riskier late-term abortions.

The amendment made the state’s Constitution neutral on the issue of abortion, giving the legislature greater ability to enact abortion policy.

The language of Amendment 1 is as follows:

Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.

Facts-About-Abortion-Cover‘The Facts about Abortion in Tennessee’ Brochure

(Note: To print the two-page version as a two-sided document, please be sure to select “Short Edge Binding” from the “Layout” section in the print set-up menu.)

Amendment 1 Church Bulletin Inserts

Bulletin 1Amendment1-Bulletin1 Bulletin 2

Frequently Asked Questions about Amendment 1


Why doesn’t Amendment 1 provide an exception for abortions in the case of rape or incest or where necessary to save the life of the mother?

The question implies that an “exception” is needed because Amendment 1 bans abortion. Amendment 1, by its very language, does not ban abortions. It merely says that our state constitution does not provide a right to abortion. It essentially makes the constitution neutral on the subject of abortion.


Does Amendment 1 ban abortions?

No, it only puts the Constitution back where it was before the Court changed it, making it neutral on the issue of abortion.


Has Tennessee ever banned all abortions?

No. Never. Not even the first statute on the subject passed in late 1800’s banned all abortions.


If Amendment 1 is passed and then Roe v. Wade is overturned, would abortions be illegal in Tennessee?

No. Current law which makes abortion legal during all nine months of a pregnancy would be the law unless a change is approved by a majority of both the House and Senate and approved by the Governor.


If Amendment 1 contains language saying that a woman has a right to abortion in the case of rape or incest would that not prohibit the General Assembly from taking any action in regard to those situations?

No. The legislature can enact legislation that will define when those exceptions come into play. The real question is whether courts or legislative bodies should decide these kind of policy questions.


What if the General Assembly were ever in the future to thwart the will of the people in regard to abortion policy?

This question assumes that only the legislature, and not the Supreme Court, can thwart the will of the people. By protecting partial-birth abortion, it is clear that this assumption is wrong as partial-birth abortion is not favored by a clear majority of Tennesseans.  And further, no one can run for election against an appointed Supreme Court judge if he votes to thwart the will of the people.  Thus the people are essentially without any effective remedy if abortion policy is left in hands of Judges.

 To learn more about the official campaign organization in support of Amendment 1, visit www.yeson1.org.

Our Mission: To equip Tennesseans and their public officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values the traditional family, for the sake of the common good.